So to celebrate my Mom's 39th birthday (again) she wanted some Italian themed food. I like when the whole family comes to our house instead of going out- we can relax, stay as late as you want, drink as much as you want and most importantly watch the Giants game ;) There are 6 of us usually and they come with the booze and I'll cook up the meal- having a great time + saving money + everyone pitching in = a normal family gathering for us.
My mom is a bruschetta fanatic- it is always a must have. So to change it up I made homemade focaccia bread instead of just regular Italian bread- which came out perfect and is oh so good. Here's the menu run down:
Homemade Focaccia with Bruschetta
Romaine and Fennel Salad
Caprese- Homemade pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes on Italian artisan bread
Proscuitto, arugula, and provolone on roasted garlic artisan bread
Genoa Salami, hot capicola, homemade roasted red peppers, provolone and arugula on whole wheat artisan bread
The last panini combo was the favorite!
(Healthy) Lemon Semifreddo with raspberry and almond topping
Wow- this seems like such a lot of work when I actually typed it out! But it really wasn't- just some good planning and prep can make your party easy and enjoyable.
First things first: food shopping the day before. I basically made the deli counter lady crazy. I ordered all the meat and cheese pre-sliced so all I needed to do was put on the bread and fry. I also picked up frozen bags of raspberries because they were on sale and of course all the other fresh ingredients I needed.
When I got home from food shopping I made the pesto, roasted red peppers (you can also just pick up a jar of them no biggie), and the lemon semifreddo. By the way, semifreddo is like an Italian sherbet.
Fast forward to the day of- I made the focaccia in the morning (which you could have done the night before but I wanted it super fresh and it made the house smell wonderful), pureed the raspberries in the blender, and made the bruschetta (which could also have been made in advance). When we were all done with the appetizers I just assembled the sandwiches and fried them up. Simple!
So the focaccia recipe is again Anne Burrell's but I this time I used a bit less flour and a bit more yeast. Can't deny the fact that this is a great simple recipe.
|Then you slice the small squares again through the middle and make a small little bruschetta sandwich!|
- 1 big bunch of basil leaves (about 1-2 cups)
- handful of parsely
- 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese (Or pecorino)
- 2-3 tablespoons of pine nuts
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 of a lemon, juiced
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large tomatoes, diced (I have also used canned diced tomatoes before- just drain them well)
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- 1 bunch of basil, torn or chiffonade
- Extra virgin olive oil- about 1/3 cup
- salt to taste
Romaine and Fennel Salad
I wanted something light and crunchy to go along with my focaccia and bruschetta
- 2 heads of romaine, sliced
- 1/2 bulb of fennel (aka anise), sliced paper thin- save a couple fronds for garnish (the green leafy stuff on the top of the bulb)
- orange zest (optional)
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
So a Bellini is a classic Italian cocktail made with peach and prosecco. I decided to change it up with raspberries.
- 2 bottles of good Prosecco (or any sparkling wine/champagne)
- 1/2 bag of frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup of triple sec (this is really just to help the raspberries in the blender- you could omit or just use water or another flavored liquor)
Panini is just a hot squished sandwich. I do not have a panini press- but I do own a cast iron skillet. If you don't own a heavy pan you can just weigh it down with whatever you have- a large can of beans or tomatoes etc. One thing about paninis is that it is a good idea to make sure you have a piece of cheese directly on the bread on BOTH sides- so it acts like glue to stick everything together
Caprese: is the classic combo of basil, mozzarella and tomato. Just slice the bread, slather both sides with pesto, top with cheese and tomato and put in a skillet with a bit of oil and pop the cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich to weigh it down.
Prosciutto: I used sliced prosciutto, provolone and arugula in this sandwich on a roasted garlic bread. Same technique as before
Salami: This one was the best! And everything you can get right at the deli! Genoa Salami (which is a sweeter salami), Hot capicola is another type of salami-which is from the shoulder or neck- they even have sweet versions, Roasted red peppers , arugula and provolone. Pile everything up, squish down and fry until the cheese is melty and delicious!
|Did this the night before. Oh and check out my new magnetic knife holder I got for Christmas!|
Ok so I basically followed Anne Burrell's Lemon Semifreddo recipe but of course I forgot to buy heavy cream- so I had to improvise (and pray it worked) and then when it did work out I got to call it "healthy" hehe. This needs to set for AT LEAST 6-8 hours- so I suggest you do this the day before.
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- other half a bag of frozen raspberries left over from the bellinis
- 8 eggs- yolks and whites separated
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 3 lemons, zested and juiced
To serve- use the plastic wrap to help you pull it out of the pan and then slice and serve! Super delicious, refreshing and pallet cleansing!
Try one or try them all! Buon appetito!
Oh so back to the extra left over from dessert- now this is not brain surgery- but you are going to have to eye ball it- depending on how much egg mixture you have left- sprinkle some flour into the batter- mix as gently and as little as possible to incorporate the flour (sifting would really help here). Mix until the batter looks like it has a thicker texture.
Now in another loaf pan or I used these cute ramekins- grease the pan, pour mixture in and top with raspberries.
Pop then into a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden on the edges. Depending on how much flour you put in you might not be able to rely on the "toothpick method" but hey whatever comes out is at least going to taste good for a quick dessert. It came out almost like a really moist sponge cake. I think I baked it for about 20-30 minutes.
|Before she went in the oven|